Week 4 blog post
When I was young, I would play in a world created by the forest. Where each swaying branch was a secret door to a new adventure filled with menacing dragons and mischievous fairies. Trees were not just climbed, but conquered, and each limb gave a vantage point to a new world. Sometimes a lookout upon an impassable wilderness, and other times an ocean full of mermaids and dolphins. Roots and rocks were tables and chairs from which we feasted on mud cakes iced with pebbles and drank from goblets of leaves. Imagination flowed freely and magic was a faithful friend.
As time passed on, the fairies flew away to another land, perhaps to play with a new kid, but the magic they held still lingered within the woods. For years, I wondered if this childish wonder would ever return and often questioned if I would view the world through as rose-colored lenses as my younger self once did.
It is said that the islands of Hawaii are alive, that the spirits and legends are not just words on paper but a living spirituality within the land and its people. As a complete outsider, I felt like an intruder to this sacred world, that maybe I wasn’t connected enough to Oahu to experience such a coveted energy. This all changed the first time I walked down a twisting path of sand and grass, beaten down by the countless soles before me. Grass creeped between my toes and my calloused feet braved the pointy rocks hidden underneath the scattered sand along the trail. Each step brought me closer to a secluded beach, where a jungle gave way to a horseshoe shaped shoreline and the sun bleached sand sloped gently towards and shining sea. The sun was high in the sky and the air was electric, buzzing with the promise of adventure. My friends and I ran for the ocean, throwing our bags down without a second thought, mesmerized by the turquoise water before us, dying to jump in.
I can still remember the first time I dove into the water. In seconds, I was transported to a new world, surrounded by a salty serenity where sound stopped and everything became new. I opened my eyes and through a blurry haze, could imagine myself eight years old again, exploring the kingdom of Atlantica as The Little Mermaid. Instinctively, I kicked my legs towards the bottom, diving deeper to reach for the sand below. I dug my fingers into its silky surface and emerged with a handful, watching as it changed in my hand from its fabric like form to a compacted ball of mud. I let the sand fall through my fingers and looked to the sky, feeling the warmth of the sun on my face, letting my world illuminate with gold. I let my body sway as I was now afloat, slowly moving back and forth with the transferring energy of each wave. Ever since I was little, I felt as if swimming was the closest I would ever get to flying. In the water, I felt as if I was drifting through space. Fully suspended in complete nothingness, where I could spin, and twirl, and flip, and dive and the only thing to stop me was the liquidity of the sea. With palms outstretched, I would reach to either side and only to be greeted with vast amounts of nothingness, only water and my own feeling of total suspension. Pulling myself back to the present, I tried this out again, testing out my old childish tricks, flipping and spinning without intention or direction. The magic of the woods had returned and I was flying.
As the day rolled on, we played among the waves as they crashed into shore, becoming obsessed with the pursuit of catching a rolling barrel, again and again and again. Once the ocean had filled our ears with water and our bathing suits became weighed down with permanent pounds of sand, we would seek refuge on the shore and soak up the the sun. Tired, but far from defeated, we recovered on the beach until our skin felt the familiar itch of a creeping sunburn, signaling that it was time to brave the tumbling waves once again. The day mostly consisted of this, ocean to sand, sand to ocean rotating in what seemed to be a never ending cycle. As the day began to wind down and the sun started to lessen it’s rays, I could feel my mind fill with ease and allowed by body to follow suit, sinking deeper into my towel, molding a girl-sized impression into the soft sand. I breathed in, feeling the sticky sweet humidity stir with the unintentional salt water in my lungs. The air felt truly alive, as if it were infusing each breath in with a softy spoken energy. If the Hawaiian goddess Pele really did shape these islands, I would say that her magic remains within their sandy shores, echoing through each crashing wave, and her spirit remains alive through magic of the island, touching only those who are lucky enough to experience it. As the sun started to climb its way down from its lofty perch, the sky became painted with pink and gold, and I watched as it slipped a blanket of golden warmth onto the restless ocean as it twisted and turned in rebellion. The ocean seemed to challenge the sky, dodging the rays in an intricate dance from blue to gold and gold to blue until finally giving up the fight, letting each golden tendril of the sun weave into a layer of warmth over the restless sea. I watched each wave crash dreamily on to the beach, moving slowly, like the heavy eyelids of a tired child. I could feel the sighs of the koa trees, as they too began to release the weight of their knotted trunks, swaying sleepily with the breeze signaling the approaching night. The movement of the beach carried whispers of words not quite tangible, like a lullaby in a foreign language. But maybe that’s for a reason; maybe the spirits from the islands speak in a tongue that is only to be heard by those who see that they still remain; alive and well. Or maybe, it’s the magic from my childhood, finding its way back into the world around me: through the dance of the sun and the sky, along the green paths twisting like snakes to secluded beaches, swaying with the trees and dancing in unison with the breeze. Maybe, it’s the fairies from my childhood forests, in their rightful home, within this secluded beach where imagination and reality have twisted into one, on the island of Oahu.